Did you all think I had dropped off the face of the blogosphere?
Nope. I got a job.
As jobs go, the hours couldn’t be more ideal–I’m working only during the school day as an elementary school instructional assistant–so I’m home in time to shuttle my own children around to their activities, help with homework, and get dinner on the table. I’m free most of the same days as my children (including summer vacation).
Still, Little Six now has to go to before and after-school care, because I have to leave for work nearly an hour before he starts school, and I don’t return in time for his dismissal. We now pack lunches and set out backpacks the night before, and we grocery shop on the weekends like every other family with two working parents.
It’s a big change.
No more sleeping in, soap operas and bonbons. No more volunteering at school, running errands at 10 a.m., or taking a shower at 2 p.m. The dirty dishes sit in the sink a little longer. My desk looks like a bomb exploded somewhere in the vicinity.
I am physically wiped out by the end of the day–I’m certain none of you teachers is surprised–and I can only hope that I build up some stamina after a few more weeks. I blame it on those little chairs in the first grade classrooms and the challenge of learning a couple hundred new names. Not to mention fourth grade math.
A few things that have made this transition go more smoothly:
- Ye Olde Crockpot. Slow Cooker Salsa Chicken saved us on my first day back to work. I took one minute in the morning to dump a package of chicken breasts, a jar of mild salsa (Aldi’s organic), and a good shake of cumin (instead of taco seasoning) in the the slow cooker. After eight hours on low, it was juicy and took a minute to shred for tacos. There was enough left over for Chicken Taquitos later in the week, and still more to put in the freezer for another taco night.
- Weekend meal planning and batch cooking. If we can prepare at least one meal for the week ahead, we feel so much more relaxed. The Hub has been great about making this happen. Continuing our dinner swap arrangement has also been a lifesaver.
- Taking advantage of after-school care. I could pick Little Six up within the first half hour, but we pay a flat rate no matter how long he stays, so he can stay until 6 p.m. if necessary. I’ve been picking him up around 4:30, which gives me a little extra time with the big kids and their homework. Little Six is a social kid who enjoys the play time–including art projects, games, and time outdoors–which is better than being at home playing Super Mario Bros. by himself while I make dinner and drill spelling words. The big kids seem more cooperative, too, when I can give them my undivided attention to hear about their day.
- Keeping up with the (almost) daily laundry routine. Saving it all up for the weekend just sounds soul crushing. I managed a load three out of five days last week, and still had four loads on Saturday.
- A shared family calendar. I put everything on Google Calendar, from all the kids’ activities (and what time I need to pick them up) to social events to school and work deadlines. I even add reminders for errands I need to run and when library books are due (we’ve been burned one too many times with late fees). Having a record of all our commitments in one place works for us. We can check it from work and generally rely on its accuracy. At least, I can’t remember the last time we double-booked something!
What are your best tips for juggling your work schedule and your home schedule?
Laundry. To cut back on the amount of laundry, since all family members go to school or work, start the routine of changing clothes after school to save the better clothes, to wear again. For kids, items like blue jeans, can usually be worn again, probably not the shirts though. For adults, changing clothes, and wearing the same “at home” clothes could be worn for several days instead of sending them to the laundry chute after one wearing.
This will require a little time teaching children to assess “ready for the wash or back in the closet.”
These ideas not only reduce the amount of laundry, but save the wear and tear on the clothes as well as saving water and detergent.
Check, check and double check on Google calendar. Love the color coding, repeat function and alerts. Is 10 days, 1 week, 3 days, 24 hours and 45 minutes too many reminders to get us to a birthday party, present in hand, on time? I think not!